“I guess I’m lonesome.”
“Are you smitten with that girl?”
Dave laughed. “Maybe! Who wouldn’t be? Why doesn’t she divorce that bum—she could do it easy enough—and then marry a chap who could run Las Palmas for her?”
“A man about six feet three or four,” acidly suggested the judge.
“That’s the picture I have in mind.”
“You think you could run Las Palmas?”
“I wouldn’t mind trying.”
“Foolish question number three.”
“You must never marry,” firmly declared the older man. “You’d make a bad husband, Dave.”
“She ought to know how to get along with a bad husband, by this time.”
Both men had been but half serious. Ellsworth knew his companion’s words carried no disrespect; nevertheless, he said, gravely:
“If you ever think of marrying I want you to come to me. Promise?”
“I’ll do it—on the way back from church.”
“No. On the way to church. I’ll have something to tell you.”
“Tell me now,” urged Law.
“There’s nothing to tell, yet.”
“I’ll have no old ruffians kissing my brand-new bride,” Dave averred.
The judge’s face broadened in a smile. “Thank Heaven ‘Young Ed’ has the insides of a steel range, and so my pet client is safe from your mercenary schemes for some years. Just the same, if you ever do think of marrying—remember—I want you to come to me—and I’ll cure you.”
LONGORIO MAKES BOLD
Upon her arrival at La Feria Alaire discovered that the Federal depredations had been even greater than she had feared. Not only had the soldiers taken a great many head of cattle, but they had practically cleared the ranch of horses, leaving scarcely enough with which to carry on the work.
Alaire’s hacienda comprised a hundred thousand acres or more— lacking a thorough survey, she had never determined exactly how much land she really owned—and the property fronted upon a stream of water. In any other country it would have been a garden of riches, but agriculture was well-nigh impossible in northern Mexico. For several years now the instability of the government had precluded any plan of development, and, in consequence, the fields were out of cultivation and cattle grazed over the moist bottom lands, belly deep in grass. The entire ranch had been given over to pasture, and even now, after Alaire had sold off much of her stock because of the war, the task of accurately counting what remained required a longer time than she had expected, and her visit lengthened.
However, life in the roomy, fortress-like adobe house was pleasant enough. Dolores saw to her mistress’s wants, and the regular inhabitants of La Feria were always extravagantly glad to make their employer welcome. They were a simple, mirth-loving, industrious people, little concerned over the war, so long as they were unmolested, but obviously relieved to see Alaire because of their recent fright at the incursion of Longorio’s troops.